I randomly stumbled on a documentary yesterday on YouTube from Al Jazeera, called “How to be a Chinese Tourist,” which was published just a few weeks ago. Here’s how the video is described:
From setting fire to curtains inside an aeroplane cabin and hurling scalding noodles over a flight attendant to urinating in public places, Chinese tourists have gained a bad reputation.
One in 10 travellers world-wide is from China.
Outside of Asia, their destination of choice is France.
Despite complaints from locals, officials in Paris want to double the number of Chinese visitors to five million a year.
101 East asks what it will take to turn the plane loads of first-time travellers from China into well behaved sightseers.
Here’s the video:
When I first saw the name and description, I sort of assumed this would be poking fun at Chinese tourism. But then I realized it was from their 101 East show, which I usually find to be quite interesting and insightful.
Chinese tourism is booming globally, and there’s no doubt this leads to a lot of insane stories, many of which leave those from the west shaking their head (and perhaps even some in China, like this lady).
I try to take a slightly less negative approach, because I recognize what’s considered to be acceptable behavior in China is very different than in the west, and in many cases Chinese travelers are abroad for the first time.
Anyway, that’s why I found this documentary so fascinating. It takes place in Paris (the biggest foreign destination for Chinese tourists), and first talks about general trends, then follows a Chinese tour guide who has been living in Paris for 14 years teaching new Chinese tour guides how to act, and then follows one guy in particular who is on his first trip to France. Hearing his perception of things is fascinating, like when they show up at a landmark only to find that it’s closed due to a strike, or his disappointment when he finally sees the Mona Lisa.
It’s much more interesting than you’d expect. If you have the time, I highly recommend checking out this very cool show.